Food For Thought

Life Analytics

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Analytics is one of the few industries or may be the only industry where usage is more than awareness.
Let me try to explain this by citing few examples from our day-to-day life.

Example 1: The IPL Phenomenon

In the recently concluded IPL cricket match, team “A” needed 14 runs to score from the last over. Bowler “X” who bowled superbly in the first spell was the obvious choice for many cricket pundits. But the captain tossed the ball to a bowler “Y” who had moderate success with the ball on that day. Everyone thought the captain made a horrible decision. From the body language of the vice-captain, it was evident that even he was not happy with the decision. He had a brief chat with the captain. But the captain was firm. Contrary to everyone’s expectation, the bowler bowled an excellent over. The team won by four runs. The gamble paid off. In the post-match presentation, the captain revealed his reason for tossing the ball to the bowler. Bowler “Y” had a reputation of restricting the opposition during the death over while bowler “X” was quite expensive when he was asked to bowl for the death overs.

Later the data revealed that bowler “X” was particularly expensive during the death over against the same team, especially when the matches were played away from the home. It was indeed a risk, but a calculated one. Analytics is all about how much confidence you have in your decisions and how much risk you are willing to take.

By the way, was the decision to ask Messi to take a penalty kick against Iceland based on sound analytical decisions? Let’s dive deep into the data and wear our analytical hats.

Example 2: The Butterfly Effect

Once I went to a temple. By the time I reached the temple, I was surrounded by garland sellers. We (family) had already made up our mind to buy coconuts and some tulasi (holy basil) leaves only. No garlands. But somehow, one of the garland sellers could persuade me to buy a garland. I had to shell out Rs. 40.

Garland seller: Sir, shall I give you 4 garlands?

Me: No, just one is enough.

Garland seller: Sir, there are four deities of Ram, Laxman, Sitaji, Hanuman inside the temple. So if you are buying, you might as well buy four.

Finally I decided to buy 4 garlands (@ Rs. 150, I got a Rs. 10 discount).
Then we all stood up in a queue for ‘darshan’ (seeking blessings). It was a long queue. Suddenly, we saw a beggar enter the queue. I ignored him. But he was quite persistent with his plea and was after me for almost 2-3 minutes. I lost my cool.

Me: Boss, there are so many people here. Why are you targeting me? You are wasting your time and opportunity to get money.

But beggar tha ki maanta hi nahi (didn’t listen to me). I got frustrated. As an analyst I was trying to analyse why the beggar was targeting me. I got the answer after a few days when I purchased an item from Amazon. The moment I completed the transaction, I saw a message.

‘Those who have bought item X have also bought item Y’.

Maybe, the beggar must have done a similar analysis. He must have thought – if this customer can be persuaded to buy four garlands, he can be my potential customer too. The probability of me giving him money was more than others. He was 90-95% confident and was willing to take a 5-10% risk. So he may not be aware of the field of analytics, but he was implementing it.

Example 3: Lasting Impressions

We were at a restaurant. A server came to take the order. My wife says, ‘One tea without sugar and one with sugar’.

The server promptly served the tea without sugar to me.

My son then asked me, ‘How does almost every server know that you are the one that drinks sugarless tea and not mom?’

Me: According to him, maybe people with white hair are older and older people have a higher chance of getting lifestyle issues like high sugar problems.

Wife: Why don’t you colour your hair? You will look at least 10 years younger after colouring your hair. I am dying to see you younger.

Me: That will not solve the problem. Even then, the server will serve the tea without sugar to me thinking males have a higher probability of getting high sugar problems than females.

The Conclusion:

A spiritual guru explains the basis of Karma (action). ‘Your karma depends on your state of mind. It could be either satvik (goodness), rajasik (passion) or tamsik (ignorance)’.

Cluster analysis is a grouping technique in which people are grouped according to their interests, desires and opinions. Our ancient masters grouped people depending on their state of mind.

In all of the above cases, I am sure that neither the captain, the beggar, the server or the spiritual guru knew what analytics was all about. Yet they were analysing. In fact, many people I know find it difficult to pronounce the word ‘analytics’.

Five years from now, analytics as an industry will be as popular as FMCG. But till such time we will have to live with people pronouncing ‘Analtitics, Analgesics, Analseptic, Antiseptic’ etc.

The day is not too far when a bank customer’s loan will get rejected citing a reason that ‘according to the logistic regression model, you are very likely to default on the loan’.

I always believe that life is beautiful.
But sometimes life gives me a shock, just to check whether I really mean what I believe.

The books I read in 2016

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Well I started 2016 with Shiva Trilogy. If you haven’t read these books, please hit the bookstore asap. These are one of the finest works of Amish Tripathi. The flow of the story is amazing. Although it took me more time to finish the third one. It is a bit slow, but then Amish compensated that by a mind-boggling Climax to the book. I wish to see a movie made on these books and I believe Farhan Akhtar will play the character of Shiva perfectly.

Then I shifted to romantic novels. Well as they say there are moods and I have a habit of reading novels depending on the moods/ state of mind. I read back to back three romantic novels. Not a big fan of either Durjoy Datta or Ravinder Singh. However, these books were a good read, especially if you are travelling. They were more like quick snacks. I remember finishing off one of these books in 5hrs train journey.

After getting over with my romantic mood, I was looking for my next book. And one of my friend who has deep interest in history and mythology suggested Ashwin Sanghi’s books. He has a way of telling the Indian history in a contemporary way. I loved his style of story-telling. People who want to get a feel of mythology in the form of fiction go for his books. Among his books, I read the following two – Chanakya’s Chant and Sailkot Saga.

Then I was looking for inspiration and found these two books. Coincidentally, both the books are based on Women. I was looking to draw inspiration from personalities and I encountered these two books. I was so inspired by them that I went on to write blog entries on them too.

Then in the later part of the year I stuck to fiction only. The White Tiger will simply show you the harsh realities of the world outside. I bet you will start looking the world with different perspective. Clifton Chronicles Series by Jeffrey Archer is another among the fiction novels I took up. This series has 7 books and I started with Book 3 – Best Kept Secret. Well it was not on purpose, purely out of ignorance. Then the last one ‘See Me’ by Nicholas Sparks is a special one. Well I was once again in romantic mood and this book helped me a lot.

Well the count for 2016 is 13 books. This is a personal record for me. However, then there was atleast half an dozen other books which I started but they couldn’t hold my attention for long.

Now as 2017 has started , I have already started my reading journey. As of today, I am reading three books simultaneously. I aim to double my count by the end of 2017. Hope for best and best of luck to myself 🙂 And please recommend books for me to read in 2018.

I am a firm believer that knowledge builds up like compound interest.I am a life long learner, avid football fan and occasional blogger.